Spring 2014 
In This Issue
March is brain month
Brain Day at PLAY
Contact sports and your kids
Is It Worth It? multimedia competition
Teen driver safety
Safe and Sure child car seat installation workshop
Safe Crossing program
Safe Kids Week: Water safety
Childhood injury prevention resources launch
Safe play spaces
Childhood falls - The ALTER approach
Playground course
Dr. Robin Williams, Order of Canada
Interview with Dr. Marla Shapiro
Gabriel Israel
Wendy Jacinto
Mandy Fisher
National fall prevention conference

Starting April 1, thinkfirst.ca will redirect visitors to the Parachute website.

Visitors will be taken to a special landing page with links to the top resources sought on the current ThinkFirst site. Resources currently available on www.thinkfirst.ca have been transitioned to the Parachute website. We look forward to welcoming visitors to www.parachutecanada.org. 

TD I ThinkFirst! Contest

Parachute has extended the
I ThinkFirst! Contes
t deadline to November 14, 2014 to align with the release of the updated TD ThinkFirst For Kids curriculum.

Upcoming Events

Watch Your Step: Canadian Fall Prevention Conference, May 27-28, 2014, Toronto.

Support Parachute

Donate now to support Parachute as we work to reduce injury, the leading cause of death for Canadians one to 44 years of age. 

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Message from the President

Moving forward and reaching out


Connect.  Engage.  Share.


These three words convey our focus for 2014.  This year, we want to be more engaged and connected than ever.  We started with an idea - to share our knowledge and our resources across Canada and be a loud, strong voice for injury prevention.


We're on our way.  And, now more than ever, we need you to join us to help make our voice heard.


In this issue, you'll read stories about new injury prevention initiatives across the country, get insights from one of Canada's newest Order of Canada recipients, and meet three new Parachute members whose focus is on reaching out to strengthen our community and our message.


You will hear more about the steps we're taking to address distracted driving and the importance of raising awareness around this critical issue.  You will also learn about various efforts to keep kids' brains safe from injury and Parachute's upcoming Safe Kids Week addressing water safety.


Through these initiatives and more, we will be sharing our message with new groups of community influencers who share our passion for preventing injury and helping Canadians live long lives to the fullest.


So expect to hear from us.  And we expect to hear from you too.  Check out our website.  Follow us on twitter and facebook.  Share your story.


There's lots going on!


Louise Logan, BA JD 

President & CEO

March is Brain Month

Brain Day: Preventing Brain Injury through Education

Parachute's Brain Day program is in full swing and we hope to reach over 19,000 students nationwide in March and April! The program promotes brain and nervous system injury prevention through educational presentations in grade 4-6 classrooms.


Students are given an introduction to neuro-anatomy, and the mechanisms involved in the sensory systems, in order to help them appreciate the complexity and fragility of the nervous system. They also come to understand the life-long impact of nervous system injury and are able to make decisions for themselves to ensure their safety.


Brain Day has exponentially strengthened its impact since its launch in 2005, when University of Toronto students presented in 20 grade 5 classes. In 2013,over 18,000 grade 4-6 students were reached by more than 1,100 volunteers nationwide. There are chapters of Brain Day at most universities, and local public health agencies. Parachute has 24 active Brain Day sites for 2014, including sites at all three University of Toronto campuses, University of Ottawa, and University of Calgary.


Brain Day is made possible through the collaborative efforts and hard work of our team of dedicated coordinators, volunteers, and staff. We also sincerely appreciate the support of schools, teachers and parents that register for these presentations and promote the program in their communities.


There is still time to register for a Brain Day presentation, or support the program as a volunteer presenter. Please contact James D'Souza, Program Associate, Parachute at 647 776 5106 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) to find out more.

Brain Day at PLAY : First Nations youth learn brain injury prevention

Parachute recently announced funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to analyze and develop injury prevention programming for First Nations youth in Ontario. Building on work done through the support of Hydro One, this initiative continues Parachute's partnership with Right To Play and their Promoting Life skills in Aboriginal Youth (P.L.A.Y.) program.


Over 50 First Nations communities were recently represented at a PLAY training session in Parry Sound, Ontario. Parachute attended and was on hand to deliver an important training session on brain and nervous system injury prevention. PLAY was adapted from Parachute's Brain Day program for seamless integration with Right to Play's sport for development programming, as well as their after school initiatives.


Community Mentors learned about the functions of the brain and how that relates to the importance of injury prevention, all through fun and engaging activities. All interested communities were given resources to implement the program in their own communities, including Jell-O brain moulds, posters, concussion cards and in-depth toolkits. The interest level was high as Community Mentors took the learning further, adapting it to suit the needs of their individual communities even more.


Parachute looks forward to the continued development of this program - stay tuned for more!

BCIRPU and Ken Dryden encourage change to prevent concussions
Hockey legend Ken Dryden gave a call to action, encouraging players, coaches and medical professionals to educate others about concussion awareness, prevention and treatment, at the Ken Dryden Sport Concussion Symposium on January 28, attended by almost 200 people.


Dryden interviewed children and sports professionals who are affected by concussions, including former NHL enforcer Gino Odjick who still suffers from the concussions he endured in his hockey career. Medical professionals and coaches were also interviewed and encouraged to continue to push for ways to reduce head injuries in sports.

The event was also an opportunity to profile the second Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT) being developed by Dr. Shelina Babul, Associate Director/Sports Injury Specialist at the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit and organizer of the symposium, in partnership with the Ministry of Health. The first Training Tool was developed for physicians and health professionals, and the second will be directed to coaches, parents, players and trainers, to be ready in March. The third Concussion Awareness Training Tool for educators is scheduled to be available in the fall. For more information on CATT, please go to: CATT.


For more research information about concussion, please see: BCIRPU research.

Contact sports and your kids

If you haven't already registered your child for spring and summer sports leagues, the registration season will be fast upon you.  Should you register your child in a contact sport?  Dr. Charles Tator, neurosurgeon and Parachute board member weighs in.

Staying Safe on the Roads

Hurry!  The Is it Worth it? Multimedia competition ends March 31!

Monday is the deadline for submissions for the Is It Worth It? multimedia competition.  Create a short public service announcement in any creative format and help high school students reduce distracted, impaired and aggressive driving.  But get it to us by 11:59 p.m. EST on March 31. 


 Find out more and see the winning entry from last year.

State Farm and Parachute, Partners in Teen Driver Safety

Thanks to a generous investment from State Farm, Parachute is excited to announce that it will run and grow Project Gearshift for a second year. Project Gearshift is a national campaign aimed at reducing the leading cause of death among Canadian teens: motor vehicle crashes.  


This year Parachute plans to expand the campaign for a more national reach, with increased opportunities for young people and their communities to get behind the issue of teen driver safety. A key focus of the initiative is establishing a national Teen Driver Safety Week in October. Additionally, throughout the year the campaign will engage key stakeholders and partners in injury prevention and teen driver safety, run awareness raising events in communities across the country, provide high school curriculum resources focused on the issue, and select community ambassadors from across the country to represent the initiative. 


While the campaign is still in its planning stages, research points to key issues of distracted and impaired driving behaviour. The official campaign launch is expected to take place in May.


Parachute will also support State Farm's complementary Celebrate My Drive program, which unites high schools and their communities by generating support for their schools while encouraging safe driving commitments. Find out more at Parachute's website.  

Safe and Sure Child Car Seat Installation Workshops are up and running

Parachute is excited to partner with Chevrolet for the Safe and Sure Child Car Seat Installation Workshops. These workshops will be held at Chevrolet dealerships in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and their surrounding areas. Workshops are open to the public and all vehicle makes and models are welcome.


For more information, check out the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5qrnvdaqI2E 


The purpose of the workshops is to provide parents and caregivers with one-on-one, hands-on instruction in how to properly install a car seat in their vehicle, and how to properly secure their child in their car seat. Families and caregivers can book a half-hour time slot for an event in their area at safeandsure.ca. At their appointment, they will work with a team of certified car seat technicians to install the car seat and review key child passenger safety facts. These no-charge workshops are open to the public and all vehicle makes are welcome

If you live in the GTA, Vancouver or Montreal areas, and are interested in helping out at the workshops, please contact Jacquelyn Quirk at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .

Safe Crossing
Updated Safe Crossing program now available - along with a contest 

Looking to keep kids safe around trains and tracks?  Check out our updated rail safety lesson plans for Kindergarten - Grade 6.  Parachute and CN are pleased to offer a comprehensive, easy to use national rail safety education program. 


The program was developed with key partners to reach schools, educators, public health, community centres, and parents and their children, with extensive curriculum-based bilingual resources that promote safe behavior around rail road crossings and tracks.  Prevention of rail related injuries through education and awareness-building initiatives remains the main objective of this program.


Each lesson plan includes learning objectives, step-by-step activities, participant assessment and evaluation, in addition to follow-up activities.  The suggested activities connect rail safety to language, science, social sciences, health and physical education for children ages 5 -12.


As well, additional rail safety resources are available in English and French including a National Rail Safety Week certificate for program participants, a Safety at Railway Crossings Tip sheet, the Safe Around Trains booklet, and the Tips for Trains Rail Safety Contest - a project suitable for children and youth encouraging students to produce short movies promoting rail safety in a way meaningful to them.  Contest submission deadline is April 11, 2014.  All resources have been made available on the Parachute website .


Parachute is partnering with Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada (BGCC) to provide grants to clubs in provinces with the highest rates of rail incidences.  These grants will enable BGCC to implement rail safety activities leading up to and during National Rail Safety Week (April 28 - May 4, 2014).


Keeping Kids Safe
Parachute's Safe Kids Week: Water Safety
This year's theme for Parachute's Safe Kids Week is Water Safety and it is scheduled for June 7 to 14. It coincides with the Canadian Red Cross' National Water Safety Week.
Safe Kids Week is an annual national public awareness campaign designed to raise awareness about the frequency and severity of preventable childhood injuries, which are the leading cause of death and disability of Canadian children. A key goal of the program is to raise awareness and provide actionable education messages to parents and caregivers on a specific injury prevention topic. Safe Kids Week was originally a program of one of Parachute's legacy organizations Safe Kids Canada. The first annual Safe Kids Week took place in 1995.


More details on the theme, as well as resources and guides, will be available soon. For more information, you may contact Jacquelyn Quirk at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) .

Childhood Injury Prevention Resources Launch April 30

Parachute's project to reduce injury among young children 0-6, particularly those living in the inner city, remote and rural areas, is making terrific headway. The target launch date for the program in both official languages is April 30. This project has been a collaboration between The Community Action Program for Children and Canada's Prenatal Nutrition Program (CAPC/CPNP) partners, PHAC, as well as members of the Canadian Collaborating Centres for Injury Prevention.  It will result in several new resources being made available on the Parachute website to address seven topic areas identified.


A new on-line course, The Introduction to Child Injury Prevention, is entering pilot testing.  The course, which will be offered free through Parachute, is designed to provide resources to practitioners working with families with young children.


Also in development are approximately 160 simple images and messages on specific injury issues that affect children (falls, scalds/burns, drowning, poisoning, choking/suffocation/strangulation and playground and motor vehicle related injuries).  These negative and positive images can be used as conversation starters with caregivers or integrated into other resources.


To house all this new information, a new section is being created on the Parachute website.  Select the 'Injury Topics' tab and go to 'Child Injury Prevention'.  Along with the messages and images, this material will link to other resources available through Parachute and our partners in both English and French to provide users with one, comprehensive location for information on the specific injury topics.


And finally, this program will include a communications forum called a 'listserv'.  Practitioners who enrol will be enabled with a moderated discussion board in the form of a group email system allowing them to ask questions, share new information, resources and programs with CAPC/CPNP, Public Health, Early Childhood Educators, injury prevention practitioners and others interested in child injury prevention.


For more information on this project, please contact Julie Taylor at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Safe Play Spaces
Spring is here - Playing safe when you play outside
For children, it's the riskier outdoor play spaces - the empty lots, forests, beaches, and alleys - that are often the most interesting, imaginative and stimulating.  That's one of the key findings of a pilot project from the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit at the Child & Family Research Institute and BC Children's Hospital.

Researchers used a technique known as participatory photo mapping to find out how and where kids play. They gave cameras to two groups of 6 to 12 year-olds and asked them to take pictures and comment on the hazards and risks in their after-school play spaces. Families who took part in the study are from two low-income BC neighbourhoods, one in a rural area and the other in an urban city-centre.

The children told stories of adventurous play and said they didn't want to tell their parents about the dangerous experiences, revealing a tension between the risk and delight in playing outdoors. To see some of the children's photos and read their comments, read The Play Spaces Project: Exploring Children's Lived Experiences of Play Spaces through Participatory Photo-Mapping on the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit website. 
Injury is the leading cause of death and a leading cause of hospitalization for children and youth in Canada. Playgrounds and other outdoor play spaces are known to be areas where injuries frequently happen. Research has found that vulnerable children, those from low-income families, are at greater risk for injury due to a range of factors including poorly-maintained playground equipment and less access to protective equipment such as helmets.
"We are concerned about preventing injuries to children at play, particularly serious, life-altering injuries. And because we know that healthy child development includes some risk taking, the challenge for us in creating play spaces is to strike a balance between safety and age-appropriate risk exposure so that kids learn how to manage risk creatively without being hurt," says Dr. Ian Pike, Director of the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit, and Associate Professor in Pediatrics at UBC. 
This pilot project is part of the larger Play Spaces Project that includes a literature review; a survey of 107 parents, and recreation and municipal staff who work with vulnerable children, and an online course to train community members to inspect outdoor play spaces. 
"The goal of our project was to hear from children about where they play and from parents, kids and caregivers about their safety concerns," says Dr. Pike. "By bringing these findings together with the leading research in this field, we are able to get a clearer picture of the range of factors that influence outdoor play. We also understand the need for more research to better understand child play in natural environments, as well as the role of social inequity on play space preferences." 
The Play Spaces Project is part of the Public Health Agency of Canada's Active and Safe initiative. Full reports of the survey, literature review, and photo-mapping project are available on the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit website "Managing Safe Play Spaces", the course developed in partnership with Canadian Parks and Recreation Association and Parachute Canada, is available through the Canadian Playground Safety Institute
Childhood Falls - The ALTER Approach
Did you know that in Ontario there are thousands of emergency room visits eac h year for children ages 1-5 as a result of falls in the home? ALTER is a concept developed by Professor Barbara Morrongiello from the University of Guelph's Child Development Research Unit that has recommendations for parents to reduce these childhood falls.


Most children are hurt on stairs because they were playing on or near the stairs, or they just weren't able to 'save themselves' from falling when they lost their balance. The other most common place where children get hurt is falling off of furniture. Since children are 'top heavy' they often fall headfirst when they trip or lose their balance, falling to the ground and causing serious neck or head injuries. These types of falls are made worse when a child falls from furniture and hits their head on objects as they fall (e.g. coffee table, night table, headboards on beds). Research has shown that you cannot count on your child to always follow safety rules, nor is it possible to watch your child every minute. Professor Morrongiello has developed the ALTER approach to find other ways to keep your child safe.


ALTER stands for Activities, Location, Timing, Environment, Resources.


On the website ALTERforChildSafety.ca, Dr. Morrongiello explains how to use ALTER to remember 5 different ways to look at child safety in the home. These helpful strategies provide a number of options for keeping your child safe from falls in a way that is flexible and manageable in a busy household.

Safe Play

New online course brings playground safety to remote communities 


In Canada, an estimated 2,500 children age 14 and younger are hospitalized every year with serious injuries from playgrounds and other play spaces.  Many of these injuries - ranging from fractures, to head injuries to cuts - could be prevented with safe, well-maintained play spaces.


Managing Safe Play Spaces is a new online course from the Canadian Playground Safety Institute aimed at community members associated with schools, community centres or anywhere else children play.  This course takes the best of Canadian Playground Safety Institute's classroom-based inspection and maintenance courses and enhances them with newly developed content including video.


Participants will learn:

  • Basic playground standards process in Canada
  • The causes of significant injuries that occur on playground equipment in Canada
  • How to inspect and maintain equipment to be free of hazards
  • Basics of risk management and record keeping 

The course is tailored to meet the needs of communities with vulnerable or at-risk children and youth; it addresses safety issues related to all outdoor play spaces, including green spaces, parking lots, vacant lots and the street, and is accessible to communities in rural, remote and Northern communities through the Canadian Playground Safety Institute website.


Registration information for the Managing Safe Playspaces course is available at:  www.cpsionline.ca.  Course fees are listed on the website.


Managing Safe Play Spaces was developed under the Canada wide "Active and Safe Injury Prevention Initiative: Safe Play Spaces Project".  This course was developed in collaboration with the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit at the Child & Family Research Institute and BC Children's Hospital, Canadian Parks and Recreation Association and Parachute Canada.  Funding for this initiative is provided in part by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Leaders in Our Community
Dr. Robin Williams receives Order of Canada

Dr. Robin Williams, Associate Chief Medical Officer of Health for Ontario, was recently awarded the Order of Canada for her contributions as a public health leader promoting effective policies in early childhood education. Although a surprise, she says the honour is an incredible and very humbling experience.


As a practicing pediatrician in Niagara Falls, when faced with the ever-increasing research on the importance of early childhood education, Dr. Williams made the change to public health, as Niagara Region's Medical Officer of Health. "At a gut level, I realized so many health issues had their roots in early childhood development - it's so important for your life both mentally and physically," says Williams. "This motivates me."


She has served on many panels and advisory teams over the years and worked with Dr. Fraser Mustard as an expert advisor on the creation of the Early Years Centres across Ontario. In her current role as Vice President of the Canadian Pediatric Society, she follows injury prevention issues carefully and looks at changing legislation and changing treatment guidelines for things such as bike helmet use, hockey concussions and safe trampoline play - among many other health and safety initiatives for Canadian children.


Dr. Williams is a firm believer in teamwork; in pulling together to figure out commonality and push goals forward in more creative and knowledgeable approaches. On that note, she is delighted with Parachute's work in injury prevention and believes that Parachute and its partners pulling together make a much stronger voice. In her words, "It makes the choir stronger."


Parachute wishes to congratulate Dr. Williams on her recent appointment to the Order of Canada and for her ongoing contributions to the health and safety of Canadian families.

 An Interview with Dr. Marla Shapiro - Keynote Speaker at the 2014 National Fall Prevention Conference

Dr. Marla Shapiro, a primary care physician and Canada AM's Health and Medical Expert, is a keynote speaker at this year's National Fall Prevention Conference on May 27th and 28th. 


"Fall prevention and the risk of fractures in our older population is a big area of interest to me," says Shapiro.  "I have talked about injury prevention for years and I believe that more education and awareness is critical."


In her presentation at the conference, Shapiro will touch on the ramifications for fractures in older people, other than a loss of independence.  She notes that we tend to focus on women and hip fractures, however, while men are more likely not to fracture their hips, "they are more likely to die from those fractures."


In her practice, Dr. Shapiro treats many older adults and counsels fracture prevention with them, along with lifestyle and medical management.  For example, she continually assesses her older patients' balance and gait in an effort to establish their risk of falling.  She also advises some of her elderly female patients that "high heels are dress shoes, not walking shoes!" 


As fractures are one of the leading causes of death in the elderly, Dr. Shapiro stresses that bone health is critical to reduce the risk of fracture.  "We lay down our bone mass in our earlier years, so it is important for younger people to recognize the importance of bone health as well, as after the age of 50, we cannot improve it, only maintain it, " says Shapiro.


"That's why this is an important agenda item for everyone.  We need to educate young and old on the importance of  protecting ourselves from fractures; and we need to prevent falls to prevent fractures."


Delighted with the conference opportunity, Dr. Shapiro is looking forward to meeting others in the injury prevention field and sharing information. "The more people that move the injury prevention message along, the further it will travel in a 'rolling thunder' fashion."


Building the Parachute Team
Gabriel Israel

Gabriel (Gaby) Israel is up for the challenge. Just days into his new role as Parachute's Vice President of Strategy and Operations, Gaby took off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for charity - in his words, "the hardest thing I've ever done."


Gaby started with Parachute in January and brings a wealth of operations and information technology experience, having worked with several global companies in the technology, healthcare and financial sectors over the last 25 years. Looking for something different and more meaningful in his career, he is now eagerly embracing his role at Parachute and looking forward to the challenge of executing Parachute's Strategic Plan.


On the operations side, Gaby oversees finance, HR and IT on a daily basis and will be looking at ways and processes to make these systems work for the future. On the strategic side, he will be responsible to ensure that Parachute's Strategic Plan is executed. "The goals are very aggressive for this year and for next year and we need to make sure of execution. We need to ensure that all our processes support reaching these goals, " says Israel.


And not only does Gaby like to challenge himself, he also looks to others to challenge Parachute. Part of his mandate will be to "look for new partners to help deliver our vision and to challenge us to make sure we're doing things the best way."


Gaby moved with his family from Israel 13 years ago and likes to share an amusing story from this time. His daughter, four years old at the time and contemplating their move, came to Gaby and asked when they would be changing their surname... to 'Canada'.

Wendy Jacinto

Not too many people can say they had a personal, complimentary note sent by  Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Parachute's newest member, Wendy Jacinto, has that distinction for a blog she wrote last year that went viral.


Wendy is Parachute's Digital and Social Media Specialist, a new role that will aid in Parachute's goal of sharing its wealth of information and fully engaging potential stakeholders through social media.


With a background in marketing and non-profits, Wendy started becoming involved in social media in 2007, just as it was really evolving. "I saw it as a groundbreaking opportunity that could not be missed," she says. "I realized that to be on the forefront, companies and organizations must adopt it."


Wendy is currently working on strategies to promote and build awareness of Parachute's solutions and hopes to engage more people through Facebook and Twitter.


What's her favourite social media platform? Facebook, of course. And when asked for social media tips, she says confidently, "You never know when something will go viral."

Mandy Fisher

Welcome Mandy Fisher, Parachute's new Community Mobilizer. Although new to Parachute, Mandy is no stranger to injury prevention at the community level, having worked with the Alberta Traffic Safety Fund and the Community Injury Control Fund for several years.


In her new role, Mandy will be reaching out to existing Parachute community networks, including all Safe Community leads, and working with them to provide support for their efforts with resources and the most appropriate solutions. She will also look to engage new partners - with a focus on motor vehicle collisions and sports and recreation - across the country.


Mandy gains incredible satisfaction working with groups at the community level. "I realize the tremendous effort communities put forth, often with limited funds and resources, to address issues," says Fisher. "They use creativity and a true collective community approach to gain momentum and results."

Get Involved!

National Fall Prevention Conference an exceptional opportunity for those who work with older adults 

Watch Your Step: 2014 National Fall Prevention Conference will be held in Toronto on May 27 and 28, 2014 and features an inspirational agenda jam-packed with the latest findings and innovations in this rapidly growing field.


Presented in partnership with the Falls & Mobility Network Meeting, the conference is co-hosted by the Ontario Injury Prevention Resource Centre located at Parachute, the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit and the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute.


This high-caliber event will bring together experts from across Canada and around the world to share research excellence, clinical advances and policy innovations in fall and injury prevention among older adults. It is an excellent opportunity for highly relevant learning for anyone who works with older adults: researchers, practitioners and policymakers in the field of seniors' health and injury prevention.


Keynote speakers include:

  • Dr. Marla Shapiro, Canada AM's health and medical expert
  • Dr. Dean Fixsen of the National Implementation Research Network and Senior Scientist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Dr. Stephen Robinovitch from the Injury Prevention and Mobile Laboratory Technology for Injury Prevention in Seniors and Professor at Simon Fraser University

A full slate of concurrent sessions, symposia and poster presentations round out the program.


Delegates are also invited to the Toronto Rehabilitation Institute for a reception and tour on May 27. The Toronto Rehabilitation Institute will showcase how they help people overcome the challenges of disabling injury, illness or age-related health conditions to live active, healthier and more independent lives.


For more information, please go to: www.watchyourstepcanada.com.

36 Eglinton Ave. West, Suite 704
Toronto, Ontario  M4R 1A1
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Parachute unites the former organizations of Safe Communities Canada, Safe Kids Canada, SMARTRISK, and ThinkFirst Canada into one leader in injury prevention.